The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission got a huge boost this week in its effort to build a new men's facility and community outreach center in downtown Pasco.
A local couple pledged $1 million over three years for the project. "When I got (the pledge form) yesterday -- I don't know how to explain the emotion. My knees were a little wobbly," Andrew Porter, the mission's associate executive director, said Friday.
The mission plans to build a new 36,000-square-foot men's facility on land it owns near the Thunderbird Motel. It also plans a 10,000-square-foot community outreach center at the site, with space for distributing food and clothes and other activities.
The donors asked to remain anonymous, Porter said. He gave them a tour a while back and they later asked for a pledge form.
"They knew the way the mission impacts lives," he said. "I think that's what really drew them in -- the impact we're having on people's lives."
The existing men's shelter on North Second Avenue has about 50 beds, and everybody else who comes in -- as many as 40 to 50 a night -- sleeps on the floor, Porter said.
The new men's facility will include more than 150 beds, as well as two wings for programs, a large dining and kitchen area, and a chapel.
The mission hopes to eventually open a new shelter for women and children, replacing the aging one next to the existing men's facility. Once the men move into the new space, the women's shelter will spread out into that facility as a temporary fix.
The mission last year provided shelter to almost 1,200 individuals and served 79,000 meals.
Its services go beyond those hot meals and nights of lodging, said Mike Richardson, president of the mission's board. The overall goal is to "impact lives for Christ for the better," he said.
The mission helps with everything from addiction recovery to job searches to transitional housing.
Porter announced the $1 million pledge to the board during the group's meeting Thursday.
"He was really trying to keep a straight face," Richardson said. "(Porter said), 'After I tell you what (the announcement) is, you'll say hallelujah.' Yeah, we did."
The new men's facility and community outreach center are expected to cost about $8.9 million. The mission hopes to raise more than $4 million in community cash donations.
The $1 million pledge is a significant boost, Richardson said. "Plus, an affirmation that, yes, this is what God wants us to do. We've got to continue and we will continue."
Porter said the mission hopes to break ground next year and open the new facilities in 2015.